Mark Moses started his first company when he was 19 years old. That started off a career in entrepreneurship that saw him on the Inc. 5000 list four times, winning the Ernst And Young Entrepreneur of the Year award, and ultimately building a billion-dollar business before transitioning to now being one of the world's top business coaches.
Then his best friend and business partner abruptly left the business, stealing all of his clients and best people.
Moses says there's one thing he does for his clients that is more effective than any other: gets them together for an annual event.
"The quality of the learning is extremely high," Moses said, "but the attendees are even more valuable than the content. They're all people who really, really want it," and that common desire to achieve huge success in business drive them all to connect, share and benefit each other.
But the takeaway isn't that networking is valuable; rather, there are two critical parts of his formula that produce the vast majority of the results at the event:
- Everyone at the event is required to be "naked," sharing their most vulnerable stories and being brutally honest about what they need help with.
- Networking up -- in other words, getting into the room with people who have built businesses several orders of magnitude greater than your own.
"There is a rising tide," Moses described, "when there are people with $5 Million businesses sitting at the same table with people who have built $150 Million businesses. And because we don't tell anyone who they're going to be sitting with, all of a sudden the relationships you build transcend the business level, and you see that it's just another person who puts their pants on just like you do."
Unfortunately, Moses' coaching practice starts at companies earning five million or more in revenue, so what do you do if you're not at that level yet?
Here's how to curate a vulnerable network that can help you scale your business, so you can take advantage of the rising tide effect:
Build a dream list.
Who are the people that have achieved the level of business that you desire? These people are usually writing columns, blogging and otherwise out there in the community. Build a list and find their emails.
Ask your idols for help.
But don't just reach out and say, "can you help me?" Be realistic about their time and about your need by carefully crafting one question that, if you had the answer, would make a world of difference.
Furthermore, make sure your question takes into account your target's expertise (For instance, ask Neil Patel about SEO, not about manufacturing operations).
Persist when connecting -- but only twice.
In my early days when I used this strategy, I never knew how much to annoy people. My rule of thumb is to contact a person once. Wait a week. Contact a person a second time, typically by a second method like social media.
If the person is absolutely critical and I know they could help me, I'll make an appeal to a connection to introduce me, but that can sometimes backfire if they know who you are and are choosing not to talk to you!
Join a committed group of like-minded people.
Once you cross the million-dollar mark, YEC and EO and a host of other networks open up to you. Below that threshold, seek out business coaches that coach entrepreneurs under that mark. They typically either host their own groups or know where to find them.
Overdo it with your emotional appeal.
The reason why Moses' group meshes so well is that they are vulnerable with each other about who they are and what they need to succeed. So don't be afraid to be honest with the people you reach out to for guidance; but also remember to be honest with yourself.
In fact, if you really want to understand what's holding you back, Moses says that it's probably you.
For the record, I agree that business solutions are easy to come by (improve your gross margin: simple, but effective), and that the reason so many entrepreneurs never scale is because they are in the way.
"We're all about helping the person with the vulnerability to recognize that they're part of the problem, and understand why they're part of the problem," Moses revealed. Then it's a matter of helping the person gain the courage "to overcome their fears and really decide, 'do I really want this?'"
Ultimately, sharing our failures with each other will help everyone believe that they can. You can, too.